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Friday Ramblings: Leadership without a vision

After a series of events that included political grandstanding by both political parties, an emotional appeal with sob stories to match from the President and intense pressure from the Republican leadership in the Senate, John Boehner reversed course and decided to support the two month payroll tax holiday passed in the Senate.  It was one of the most pathetic displays of leadership I’ve ever seen.  Once again the Republicans caved in and abandoned their principles because they felt they were losing the battle of public opinion.  What they did was cut and run and in my opinion made a bad situation worse.  We now have a large number of conservatives and liberals questioning the leadership skills of the Speaker of the House.  I say to those critics…what leadership skills?  Since the 112th made John Boehner Speaker of the House and read the constitution aloud on the floor, there has been a serious lack of leadership in the House.

It has been painfully obvious that John Boehner doesn’t exhibit many of the traits that good leaders have.  In my life I have worked with some great leaders and for a few bad ones.  I have spent a career observing their traits and I have concluded that all good leaders carry very similar traits; traits that are elusive to many Washington politicians.  When we look at the job approval rating of congress their disapproval number is always through the roof.  Why is this?  Is it because they’re incompetent?  Is it because they’re self serving?  Or is because there is a lack of leadership in Congress?  I believe it’s the latter and here’s why.

Based on my own observation, leadership styles vary based on the situation a leader is thrust into.  Some leaders are required to start a project from the ground up.  These leaders use extensive organizational skills and tend to be highly knowledgeable and energetic.  They have a vision and use their strong interpersonal skills to sell it.  Still there are other times when leaders are called upon to fix or improve upon a process.  These leaders also have very high interpersonal skills combined with rock solid integrity.  They stand on principle and do what’s right even if it’s not the popular thing to do.  They are powerful communicators with a vision and inspire people through leading by example.  No matter what situation or crisis a true leader is inserted into, they are decisive and take responsibility for their actions.  They treat each success as the successes of the team and each failure as their own.  The key component to take away from these traits is vision.

A vision is the starting point on any endeavor.  Without vision you fumble around looking for purpose and meaning.  You have no common goal to rally around or move towards.  George Washington is a great example of a leader who had a vision and used his vision to inspire 2,400 men into action on Christmas Day, 1776.  His army was lacking in supplies, clothing, and pay in the winter of 1776.  They had suffered defeat after defeat until they were finally forced to evacuate New York City and retreat across the Delaware to their winter encampment.  With his army demoralized and hope fading George Washington was forced into a corner with very few options.  But he had a vision and that vision was a free and independent America.  With that vision he established small goals for his army and he not only conveyed his vision by directing that the words of Thomas Paine’s Common Sense be read aloud to his soldiers, he inspired them to do the unthinkable…attack.  And that’s exactly what they did on December 26, 1776, bringing a much needed victory to the Continental Army and restoring the hopes of a people.  This is the power of vision.

Stories of George Washington are still inspiring even today.  He was an exceptional leader who knew how to inspire and motivate his soldiers into action based on his vision of the greatness he saw in a free and independent America.  The reason our Republican leaders are struggling so much in Washington is because they do not have a clear vision and without a vision how can we move forward.  The answer is we can’t.  As misguided as the Democrats are, they do have a vision for America and this is why even when we think we have them backed into a corner on an issue they come out smelling like roses.  They are highly effective in communicating their lies, choosing the battlefield, and appealing to the emotions of the ignorant electorate.  This latest reversal by the Republicans is an example of how the left snatched the narrative against them and turned it into their own.

One of John Boehner’s blunders was trying to wage this fight around Christmas.  People for the most part want a break from politics around Christmas.  Additionally people are in a very giving mood because after all tis the season.  Mr. Boehner chose the wrong time of the year for this battle.  He made it too easy for the left to appeal to the giving nature of Americans and ended up having his ass handed to him by a bunch of leftists who turned the Republican Party into the Grinch.  The second blunder is he does not have a clear vision to convey.  The Republican Party’s only vision appears to be how to gain more seats in the upcoming election and this simply isn’t enough to save the republic.  Because they have no overall vision for America they cannot establish any short term goals to move us in a direction to save her.  So we end up with a floundering inept congress that looks like it’s completely overwhelmed by the issues we must address.  This is why they’re struggling to convey their conservative message and this is why they look like a bunch of incompetent boobs.  My advice to John Boehner and the rest of the Republican leadership…develop a vision for America over your Christmas break and come back ready to stand by it no matter what.  If you do, people will be inspired and in the end you will not only win the day, you will win over the hearts and minds of the American people.

Liberty forever, freedom for all!


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  • Infidel de Manahatta December 23, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    The Republicans should stop worrying about losing the PR battle since they are ALWAYS going to lose that and just stick to their principles. I fear that the Republicans are so lost they might hand Obama the reelection.
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  • Silverfiddle December 23, 2011 at 4:59 PM

    I’m no good at “inside politics” stuff, so I can’t tell what kind of a leader Boehner is. He seemed to have notched a few victories against Obama, but I agree with you that he lost this one, for the reasons you cited.

    I also agree with your point that the GOP has no vision and no apparent underlying philosophy. They can’t just be anti-Obama; they need to stand up and tell America what they believe and what they stand for. Paul Ryan is the only one I’ve seen a solid plan from.
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    • John Carey December 23, 2011 at 10:06 PM

      Paul Ryan is one of the few shining stars of the Republican Party. I like him a great deal and he is indeed a leader. I wish he would have jumped in the race, but I understand why he did not.
      John Carey recently posted..Friday Ramblings: Leadership without a visionMy Profile

  • Steve Dennis December 23, 2011 at 7:20 PM

    I couldn’t agree more John. The Republicans are void of leadership and–contrary to the Democrats–a clear vision of the future. They are more concerned with winning seats than moving America in the direction she needs to move. This is evidenced by the fact that they continue to cave in when the chips are on the table and they are pressured by Democrats. It is time for the Republicans to stand up for us and for America and yet they are unwilling to do so when the going gets tough. It is so frustrating!
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    • John Carey December 23, 2011 at 10:12 PM

      Boehner should step down. He has lost the face with rank and file Republicans and it’s time to go another direction. It is very frustrating indeed Steve. This is why we need to continue to hold their feet to the fire.
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  • LD Jackson December 24, 2011 at 6:05 AM

    No leadership, you say? That’s the understatement of the year. They are flailing around in the dark, without a clue what they are doing. I think we need a new Speaker, at the very least.
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